What Are You Afraid Of?

All of your fears come back to vulnerability. You don’t fear pain. You don’t fear dying. You fear that which you can’t control. This is why people fear public speaking more than death. The speaker is completely vulnerable and lacks control of the audience’s reactions. Perhaps they’ll think you’re brilliant. Perhaps they’ll think you’re a fool. Normally you wouldn’t care what they think but you have opened yourself up to their judgement. The abuse of this vulnerability is what you really fear.

Your physical fears are based on this concept. Regardless of how tough you are, your worst fears about dying are related to facing something inevitable that will not end quickly. It’s not the burning, the drowning, the spiders, the snakes or the heights that scares you. It’s facing something that exposes your human vulnerability in a way that demonstrates how powerless you really are. 

You worry that your life is so fragile that your fears have control over the outcome.

You’re not afraid of public speaking. You’re not afraid of death. You’re not afraid of talking to strangers or asking someone out. What you’re really afraid of experiencing vulnerability. You fear this because your vulnerabilities remind you of how worthless you are in the grand scheme of things.

Logically, you understand that rejection is meaningless, humiliation is temporary, that people’s opinions don’t matter and that you have to die. Viscerally, you fear that your existence is worth so little that the judgments of others do matter. You worry that your life is so fragile that your fears have control over the outcome of your life.

The only way to free yourself from fear is to accept that you are weak. It is only by acknowledging this that you can become strong. Once you accept that you do care what others think and that your life can end at any time, you recognize your fears for what they really are. Fears are nothing more than a way for you to reinforce your false wall of security.

The only way to free yourself from fear is to accept that you are weak. It is only by acknowledging this that you can become strong.

You’re afraid that your wall of personal security isn’t as high or strong as you believe. Rather than test its structure to systematically discover its weaknesses and fortify them, you avoid putting the wall the test. You know the odds of dying in a plane crash. Instead of exposing your personal security wall to this fact to test it, you avoid flying. Instead of learning to flourish in your vulnerability, you hide behind it and hope for protection from the world’s judgement. Your wall isn’t perfect. You will be tested. Unless you are prepared, you will fail.

Fears are nothing more than a way for you to reinforce your false wall of security.

Do not hide. Embrace your weakness. Recognize that your personal wall is—at best—useless and—at worst—debilitating. Your fears of being vulnerable, worthless and out of control can never be conquered. They can only be mitigated and managed. This process of cannot begin until you acknowledge your frailty. Only once you admit that you have a deficiency are you capable of solving it.

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